SAM Collins admits that the presence of a new management team at Hartlepool United has helped to draw a line under last season’s relegation.
Former boss John Hughes was sacked during the close-season with Middlesbrough academy coach Colin Cooper installed as his replacement, bringing with him Craig Hignett from the Riverside.
The Pools squad reported back to Maiden Castle last week before jetting off to Holland on Tuesday.
And Collins – who won a new one-year deal during the summer – believes that Cooper and Hignett are exactly what was required to rally morale among the demoted players.
Speaking to SportMail following last night’s 3-1 defeat to Almere City, the 36-year-old reflected: “I was relegated at Bury (in 2002) but that same summer I left and went to Port Vale.
“So this is the first time I’ve come back in to a relegated squad.
“But I think it’s helped having a new manager come in and he’s been really positive.
“Himself and Higgy have lots of ideas and the lads have responded to it.
“The group seem to enjoy having a fresh face there and it helps to draw a line under last season a little bit.
“I’m sure it will be different to how it was last year and so far everything has been positive.
“The gaffer seems pleased with our fitness as well, which could mean ball work sooner than normal.
“I think we’ve all come back in decent shape because we’re determined to make up for last season.”
Collins played the opening 45 minutes last night as Pools went down to a pair of late goals having been tied at 1-1 entering the break.
But the Yorkshireman is keen not to read too much into results at this stage of the campaign.
“We’re five days into pre-season so the main thing to come out of it is no injuries and a bit of fitness work,” he said.
“They keep the ball so you’re forced to work hard in these games.
“We’re still taking on board the new manager’s ideas and that will take a little bit of time.
“It was still a little bit disappointing to concede a couple of poor goals late on but that gives us something to work towards and I think there were plenty of positives there.”